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Our Opinion? The FBI absolutely should “assist” in Arkansas-Missouri hazing incident

Background: Lyon College hosts camp that is alleged assault site of teens

As of September 2 no charges have yet been filed in juvenile court, according to a local parent who wrote a letter to this Hazing Page earlier this week. This is confusing. At least two Arkansas papers reported on or around August 2 that the local prosecutor said charges were already filed.
A check of local newspapers such as the Batesville Guard contains no mention of updated news in the case. The basketball coach for East Carter did quietly resign as this moderator reported about three weeks ago.

Let’s assume for a second none have been filed. Even if charges get filed, they will be reduced charges in juvenile court. I have no problem with this going to juvenile court. I do have questions and concerns about the reduced charges based on a local prosecutor’s (Don McSpadden) quoted statement which needs more reflection in my opinion.

Charges in some hazing cases involving sexual assault are charged as sexual crimes. Other sexual hazing assaults, because of uninformed but likely well meaning law enforcement officers and/or prosecutors such as 6th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Don McSpadden, get charged merely as assaults because no sexual gratification was intended.

The position here is that Mr. McSpadden needs to review evidence and other successfully prosecuted sexual hazing cases to ascertain if additional charges are merited. Here is why:
After the Rider University fiasco in which a prosecutor incorrectly charged two college officials, and a number of hazing incidents in which no charges at all (or merely low-level charges such as supplying alcohol to a minor or use of alcohol by a minor), it stuns us that prosecutors won’t do some basic research into hazing behavior, past hazing crimes/convictions and (in sodomy cases) male-on-male rape behaviors. Sexual gratification is almost always (if not always) irrelevant in rape cases–period. Unless Mr. McSpadden was misquoted, he needs expert legal counsel before proceeding with greatly reduced charges. (If those charges get reduced due to plea bargaining or an intervention program because of the prior clean record of defendants, I have no problem with reduced charges, however.)–Moderator
Background on the case follows–

Past links and excerpts
Five charged in college hazing
By Tony McGuffey Guard Staff Writer
News | Published on Thursday August 2, 2007

Charges against five Missouri boys allegedly involved in sexual related hazing incidents during a local basketball camp will be filed in juvenile court.

The announcement of the filing was made by 16th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Don McSpadden Wednesday afternoon.

“I’ve talked with the State Prosecutors Coordinator’s Office, my deputy prosecutors and others in the legal field, and I feel this is a case of hazing by older boys (15-16) who are bullies,” McSpadden said.

The boys, all athletes with the East Carter County R2 school district in Ellsinore, Mo., are accused of sexual hazing of younger boys during a basketball camp held at Lyon College June 10-13.

According to reports filed in Missouri and Independence County, there were nine victims, ages 13 and 14.

“They said the hazing happened during the lunch hour in the dorms and late at night after the counselors had all gone to bed,” Investigator Brenda Bittle said. “The older students reportedly told the younger victims that they had to go through the hazing in order to get on the basketball team.

“Some of the incidents were caught on video on students’ cell phones and a parent of one of the students later found the video,” Bittle said.

Once the charges are filed, some of the students allegedly involved are expected to be escorted to Batesville by their parents to appear in juvenile court, according to McSpadden.

“I didn’t file this as a sexual crime,” McSpadden said. “There appeared to be no sexual gratification, just boys being mean.”

A court date for the boys has not been announced at this time.

Lyon College authorities said they were unaware of the alleged hazing until Missouri notified them after the camp had ended and the boys had gone home.

The camp, which has run successfully for 22 years, is supervised by counselors, coaches accompanying the campers, and the camp director, said Bob Qualls, Lyon director of public relations and communications.

Some of the athletes attending the camp reside in college residence halls, Qualls said. There were 81 residential campers at this year’s camp. The campers from the Missouri school in question were housed in Hoke-McCain Residence Hall.

A coach from the Missouri school, East Carter, had a room on the first floor of the hall. There were three camp counselors on the third floor where the campers from the East Carter school were staying. There was a 10:30 curfew and a room-check every night, Qualls said.

“The incident was not reported to the college’s coaches, counselors or staff during the camp,” Qualls said. “College officials learned of the alleged incident five days after the camp ended, on June 18, when contacted by the East Carter School District superintendent.

“The college will continue to cooperate with authorities investigating the situation.”

A phone call to Carter County Sheriff Greg Melton was not immediately returned this morning.

Mo. students face charges
By Tony McGuffey Guard Staff Writer
News | Published on Friday June 29, 2007

Incidents of sexual hazing of young teens at a recent basketball camp at Lyon College were reportedly caught on tape and found by a parent of one of the students involved, according to Lt. Brenda Bittle with the Independence County Sheriff’s Office.

Bittle said several boys from the East Carter County R2 school district in Ellsinore, Mo. were attending the camp at Lyon College the week of June 10-13 when the incident reportedly happened.

According to reports filed in Missouri and Independence County, there were nine victims ranging in age from 13-14-years-old. The three suspects in the incident are said to be 17.

“They said the hazing happened during the lunch hour in the dorms and late at night after the counselors had all gone to bed,” Bittle said.

“The older students reportedly told the younger victims that they had to go through the hazing in order to get on the basketball team. They said it had been done for years and years and even the coaches went through it.

“Some of the incidents were caught on video on some of the students’ cell phones and a parent of one of the students later found the video,” Bittle said.

“Carter County Sheriff Greg Melton personally delivered a copy of the videos to me for our investigation, and the folks at Lyon College have been very cooperative.

“Our investigators have contacted all other schools and students involved in the sports camp and it seems no one else was involved in the hazing. It only involved the students from the Carter County school,” Bittle said.

Formal warrants against the three boys are expected to be completed for filing sometime early next week. The students blamed in the incident are then supposed to surrender themselves to the Independence County Sheriff’s Office to be served.

The three students will face charges in an Independence County juvenile court, according to Bittle.

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His new book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press.

One reply on “Our Opinion? The FBI absolutely should “assist” in Arkansas-Missouri hazing incident”

I am ashamed that our society has been so desensitized by violence and sexual deviancy that it has become almost accepted as a part of society. The fact that there is even debate on whether this is a sex crime is an insult to the VICTIMS, and they are scarred for life! I am related to two of the the children, brothers that were sexually assaulted with pine cones. It was planned by the older boys in advance and brought the party favors from home. Just because they are using SCHOOL to say that it is a justified tradition what is wrong with us!They should be charged as adults and have to register as sex offenders, period ! This has to stop.

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